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250 bands apply to parade over Twelfth in wake of row


App: Harold Henning

App: Harold Henning

App: Harold Henning

Nearly 250 loyalist bands have now lodged notifications to parade over the Twelfth period.

The Parades Commission website yesterday listed around 248 submissions from bands marching between July 11 and July 13.

Around 60 notifications alone were submitted to the watchdog over last weekend.

All involve a single band with a maximum of 30 participants, in line with Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

As July 12 falls on a Sunday this year, Monday would have been the day official Twelfth demonstrations - which were cancelled in April at the height of the pandemic - would have taken place.

The influx comes as demands from loyalists to celebrate Eleventh Night bonfires and the Twelfth deepens due to the fallout from the attendance of Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.

The commission has said it has witnessed a flurry of notifications after the Executive allowed up to 30 people to gather outside last week.

The Belfast Telegraph also reported last week that the Attorney General informed the commission it had no powers to prevent bands from parading.

There have also been calls for bands to ensure social distancing and restrictions are maintained, with Policing Board member and SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly urging supporters to heed the advice of Orange grand secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson.

Rev Gibson has urged loyalists not to follow the example of republicans at the Storey funeral.

"Because someone else does wrong doesn't mean we have to follow suit," he said recently.

The Orange Order yesterday ramped up its 'Twelfth at Home' campaign by launching a free app, which will provide access to Radio Boyne.

Deputy grand master Harold Henning, who is overseeing the campaign, said the new free app was a useful addition to the initiative.

"We are delighted to announce the launch of an app to accompany our Radio Boyne broadcasts," he said.

"This will allow members of the Orange family and others to access Radio Boyne on their phone or tablet device at the press of a button.

"We are very much looking forward to our Twelfth at Home celebrations and Radio Boyne is a big part of that.

"There will be a great variety of programmes across the four days, which I am sure will have a big appeal with our members, their family and friends."

The programme can be viewed via: www.goli.org.uk/radioboyne and the app is available to download from the Play Store and Apple Store

Belfast Telegraph